A Brighton nine-drawer dresser, which has been recalled by manufacturer  Modus Furniture.
A Brighton nine-drawer dresser, which has been recalled by manufacturer Modus Furniture.
Photo: CPSC

Modus Furniture recalled 1,300 dressers because they are unstable, posing a serious tip-over risk that can result in death or injuries to children, according to an announcement from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The agency’s alert also stated that the dressers and the tip-over restraints that came with them do not comply with the industry’s current voluntary safety standards. Tip-over restraints are intended to secure furniture to the wall and prevent it from tipping.

If you own a recalled dresser (see below for details on recalled models), immediately stop using it and put it in a room children can’t access. It’s particularly urgent to do now because so many Americans are home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

No incidents have been reported with these products.

More On Tip-Overs

Modus is not offering a refund for the recalled dressers. Instead, the company is offering consumers a free replacement tip-over restraint kit that is compliant and a one-time, free in-home installation of the kit.

This recall strategy worries safety advocates, including those at Consumer Reports. "We welcome the recall, but Modus Furniture should be offering consumers full refunds," says William Wallace, CR’s manager of safety policy. "A refund option is a critical incentive for getting recalled dressers out of homes and keeping children safe, especially now given that the COVID-19 pandemic might lead to logistical delays."

Modus Furniture could not be reached for comment when CR asked why the company is not offering a full refund.

Why Dresser Stability Is Vital

One person is injured about every 20 minutes—and one child dies about every two weeks—when a piece of furniture, an appliance, or a television falls onto them, according to the CPSC. Each year thousands of those incidents involve dressers. Dresser tip-overs alone have killed at least 212 people since 2000, mostly children 6 and younger.

There is currently no mandatory government standard requiring furniture manufacturers to test their products and prove they're stable before putting them on the market. Instead, there's a voluntary industry standard that was created via ASTM International, an organization that helps develop voluntary standards for dressers and thousands of other products. It states that a dresser 27 inches or taller should stay upright when a 50-pound weight is hung on a single open drawer while the others are closed.

But with only a voluntary standard, many dressers can remain on the market without passing stability testing. Further, though securing furniture to the wall is an important tactic to prevent tip-overs, installing anti-tip restraints (or anchors) is not always possible or effective. As a recent tip-over video shows, anchors can fail.

To ensure that dressers on the market are stable, safety advocates support the Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act, which would require the CPSC to create a new rule that is mandatory and includes more stringent stability requirements.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the bill, and it's now awaiting a vote in the Senate.

Recall Details

Products recalled: Brighton nine-drawer dressers, Bow-front dressers, Travis nine-drawer dressers, Travis nine-drawer double dressers, Bevelle dressers, and Wooden nine-drawer dressers with tapered feet. All models were produced by Modus Furniture.

The mahogany and cherry wood veneers dressers have satin nickel-finished pull knobs and handles. Each dresser is about 63 inches wide by 20 inches deep and 41 inches high, and weighs about 245 pounds. A label on the back of each recalled dresser displays the date of manufacture and “MADE IN INDONESIA.”

Sold at: Costco and other furniture stores nationwide and online from November 2017 through December 2019 for approximately $700 to $1,100.

The problem: The dressers and the tip-over restraint kits do not meet the industry’s voluntary safety standards, posing a serious tip-over and entrapment risk that can result in death or injuries to children.

The fix: Contact Modus for a free compliant replacement tip-over restraint kit and to request a one-time, free in-home installation of the kit.

How to contact the manufacturer: Call Modus Furniture at 888-859-2129 or visit the company online.

To report a dangerous product or product-related injury, go to saferproducts.gov.